Chutzpa doesn't begin to cover it

A couple of days ago I said the credit card issuing banks had a lot of chutzpa, which is a Yiddish word meaning “a lot of gall,” only more so.

Then I was talking about their strategy, in the face of federal curbs on their ability to skin people behind on their payments, of just making people who pay their bills on time, in full, pay more.

Two days later what shows up in my mailbox but proof.

I always pay my bill, in full, the day it shows up. If it means taking money out of savings, I don’t care, I call the bank. Go without meat for the rest of the month?Live on oatmeal the rest of the year?

Fine. The bill gets paid. In full. No option.

I hate paying interest. Once, just once, I got careless and paid a late fee, plus interest, and vowed that would never happen again. So now, no matter how much, the bill goes out the day after it comes in, paid in full, end of story.

This month’s bill has a nice note attached: “You have the flexibility to skip a payment!” it cheerily says, then goes on to note that, this month only, just because they like the look of me, my minimum payment is zero.

Wow, zero? Well, not exactly.

I would have to pay any late payments, which is fair, and over limit balances, also fair. But, no minimum payment until next month!

But, wait, what’s this? “Finance charges will continue to accrue…” it says.

Oh ho!

By always paying in full, the day I get the bill, I am inside the 20 day “grace period” and so never, ever, pay finance charges. If I do what these yokles are “letting” me do, I avoid making the minimum payment (so my principle owed stays the same) AND I also start owing them “finance charges.”

Pay interest? Major yuk. Mortal sin. Evil incarnate. 

Sneaky devils — appear to give me a break but really try very hard to get me (a) deeper in debt and (b) owing them more money.


Checkbook out. Paid in full. Stamp on envelope. Out it goes. 

Frankly, whatever the bill the feds just approved to crack down on these guys says, it’s not harsh enough.

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6 Responses to Chutzpa doesn't begin to cover it

  1. Doug Gibson says:

    I hear you Charlie. When I was younger, and foolisher, I would take the Christmas “holiday” on my car payment never reading the fine print! No more do I fall for that!

  2. flatlander100 says:

    The other nice little not-paying-attention scam that have is the super-low or no interest transfer, or those checks you can spend that promise some absurdly low interest rate “for 12 months.” What they don’t tell you, except way way down in the small print, is that when you send in a payment, they reserve the right to allocate the payment to the credit balance you have that carries the lowest interest. So when you pay your bill, they allocate ALL the money over and above finance charges to pay down the zero percent teaser loan, and NONE of it goes to reduce the principle on the 14% or 19% or whatever regular charges.

    They trapped me on this one, for a blessedly small amount once decades ago. Never again since. The teaser rate is a fraud for most people, who will end up paying more interest if they carry balances, not less.

    By the way, that “take a month off” scam has been around for years. I usually get the offer in December or January. I guess they figure at Christmas, everyone is a little short and so more likely to bite. .

  3. The Lovely Jennifer says:

    I got one of those “skip a payment” bills, too. Just paid the usual amount. I’m of the opinion: Don’t do it! It’s a trap!, as far as credit card companies’ offers go. Like the blank checks they send you — they go for a higher interest if you use them; I send them straight through the shredder!

  4. The Lovely Jennifer says:

    I got a letter from my credit card company, letting me know they are going to raise my interest rate by 7% — yah, from 17.24 to 24.24 — CANCEL!

  5. laytonian says:

    There’s another scam they run: if you pay too early (even by hours!), it doesn’t “count” as a payment! The amount will be credited to your previous bill, meaning you show two payments in that period — but none in that little 10-14 day “window” in which your payment must fall. For that mistake of paying early, I was billed $39 late fee on the amount that had been charged (and paid for previously!)


    Cancel account.

  6. ctrentelman says:

    Never had the problem of paying early — presumably this is done electronically? I always open the bill and pay it the day it shows up. So far the USPS has not failed to get it there on time.

    Paying in full, on time, prevents the problem of payments applied to the low interest part of the loan — I pay no interest at all. It’s amazing to me that people are willing to have the cost they pay for everything inflated by interest, yet scream and yell at a tax that is a tenth as large, or even a 100th as large.

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